There is so much to do and love about Newport, Rhode Island. It’s a town steeped in rich history with miles of scenic coastline. It’s known as ‘The City by The Sea.’ But it’s also known for it’s quaint cobblestone streets, charming shops, and of course its opulent mansions. Did you know Newport was the original shipbuilding port in Rhode Island? And that it is still the sailing capital of the world? Sailors from around the globe drop anchor in it’s little harbor all summer long!
Newport, Rhode Island was host to the America’s Cup for more than 50 years until New York took over. Newport, imo, has some of the best colonial-era buildings and architecture and the most stunning Gilded Age mansions known in U.S. history. But we can’t forgo it’s vibrant cultural scene, the gorgeous beaches, fabulous boutiques, and all the freshest seafood you can find. All year long Newport offers visitors many things to do, but if you’re especially looking for a fun coastal getaway in the summer, look no further than Newport, Rhode Island.
Explore The Cliff Walk
The Cliff Walk is a must for those visiting Newport. It is a 3.5 mile public access walk that combines the beautiful coastline on one side and the architectural history of Newport’s gilded age mansions on the other. It’s a wonderful walk that will take you along Newport’s stunning (and rocky) coastline often with wildflowers, birds and geology. They all add up to a really delightful walk. And your pooch will love it here too, just remember they must be leashed and picked-up after.
Drive, Bike or Scooter Around Ocean Drive
10 miles of commanding coastline meets one winding road on Newport’s iconic Ocean Drive. Start your journey just off historic Bellevue Avenue and continue along for a picturesque journey with heart-stopping views. You’ll pass by the famous Gilded Age mansions, Hammersmith Farm (where Jackie Kennedy grew up), and more. The best time to drive by is at dawn, when there’s no traffic and you get uninterrupted views. Ocean Drive is free and open to the public.
Kite Flying at Brenton Point Park
While driving down Ocean Drive make sure you pull into Brenton Point State Park where you can stop and enjoy the views with a picnic or better yet fly a kite! On weekends people will gather for picnics and you can see kites of all sizes, colors and shapes flying all over the skies. It’s actually quite a sight to see. There are also trails for walking, restrooms nearby and you can usually find a Newport’s famous Del’s Lemonade Truck parked nearby for delicious iced lemonade!
Tour Fort Adams State Park
Fort Adams State Park is another must-do when in Newport. The Fort is located on the Newport Harbor and offers a great opportunity to learn past history. It also offers some of the most beautiful views of the harbor and the bridge. It is also home to some of the best summer events like the Beer Fest, the Newport Folk Fest and Jazz Festival. And you can even rent the premises to host your own event!
One of the best ways to tour Newport is by sea. You can’t visit Newport and not jump on a sail boat for a tour. A classic cruise, whether it be a day sail or sunset sail, a sightseeing boat tour is well known to be the quintessential Newport activity that will highlight your visit. There are several tour companies to choose from but SIGHTSAILING OF NEWPORT and SAIL-NEWPORT are two of my favorites.
Tour The Newport Mansions
Of course one of, if not the main attraction, when visiting Newport is to see the stunning mansions of the Victorian Era elites known as ‘summer cottages.’ The Newport Mansions offer a unique trip through 250 years of American history, architecture, art and landscape design. There are currently five enormous structures open to the public for viewing and four ‘smaller’ others as well. Most are available to rent for personal events. You can’t go wrong with any of them!
The Newport Flower Show
The Newport Flower Show is one of my favorite events of the summer. I’ve been going for years and they stopped the show since covid. I can’t wait to go back see what they showcase once again. Every year brings a new theme and the 2023 Newport Flower Show will celebrate The Grand Tour, from fantasy gardens to modern farms, with a variety of special events, beautiful floral designs, impressive horticulture exhibits, stunning garden displays, unique shopping opportunities and more. The show opens on Friday, June 23 and runs through Sunday, June 25, 2023 at Marble House in Newport.
Visit Bowen’s Wharf
Bowen’s Wharf is smack center in downtown Newport and is considered the Anchor of the Newport Waterfront! It’s a marina, with great restaurants & nightlife where you can schedule boat tours, find boutiques and galleries as well as events all year round. You can grab a coffee or an ice cream and sit and people watch or better yet watch boats and ships pull right into the harbor. You can do it all, shop, dine and enjoy beautiful views of Newport Harbor, often with live music!
Cocktails On The Lawn At Castlehill
Considered one of the top places to dine in Newport, savor New England coastal specialties at The Lawn at Castle Hill, featuring unparalleled views of Narragansett Bay.
Visit The Tennis Hall Of Fame
The Newport International Tennis Hall of Fame is committed to preserving tennis history, celebrating its champions, and educating and inspiring a worldwide audience. It is located on Bellevue Ave and is home to the first U.S. Open Championship held in 1881. The museum has various exhibits throughout the summer and with an on-site tennis club with courts available for rent. You can purchase tickets (starting May 9) to watch some great matches during Tennis Week, July 10-17.
The Audrain Automobile Museum
Also located on Bellevue Ave is this awesome car museum. So, if you’re a car enthusiast this is a must-see pit stop in Newport. The Audrain Automobile Museum collection is comprised of over 160 of the rarest and most remarkable automobiles in history, and houses fully restored vehicles ranging from the beginning of the 20th Century to modern day. Current Exhibition: Wonders in Wood, On Land & By Sea from March 18 – June 11, 2023.
Go To A Newport Polo Match
While these aren’t technically located in Newport, it is just a short drive up to Portsmouth and so worth the drive! I love going to watch the Newport Polo Series and I can’t wait ’till the season begins. You’ll spend a great afternoon watching a polo match that is fun, entertaining and so posh! It’s best if you can round up your group of friends and tail gate it. Of course you can always buy tickets for a pavilion table, either way they’re exciting.
Ride The Rails With The Rail Explorers
Another must-do when in Newport! But this one has to be planned in advance because it is such a popular activity and gets booked quickly. Again, not technically located in Newport, just a short drive up to Portsmouth. This is such a fun activity for everyone especially families. Rail Explorers offers an unforgettable scenic ride along the coastline with spectacular views of Narragansett Bay on custom built pedal-powered vehicles using existing railroad tracks. You have the option of day or evening rides. Available from mid-April through October, the tour takes approximately 90 minutes.
Go Shopping Down Thames Street
Take a stroll down the cobblestones of Thames Street and visit some of the great businesses in downtown Newport. From fashion boutiques and fine jewelry to art galleries there is something for everyone. Not to mention some of the best fudgery and creameries you can find!
Get Oysters At Clarke Cooke House
Like oysters on the half shell? Look no further! One of my favorite restaurants in Bowen’s Wharf in Newport, Clarke Cooke House is renowned for its innovative cuisine. The Candy Store Bistro and Cafe is colorful and lively, with harbor-side views. The oyster selection is amazing and the brunch menu is fantastic!
Visit Easton’s Beach aka First Beach
Newport is blessed with a beautiful coastline and several public beaches to enjoy surf, sand, and sun. The largest of them is Easton’s Beach – locally known as First Beach. It is located on Memorial Boulevard at the start of the City’s famed Cliff Walk and occupies a 3/4 mile long stretch of sand with a board walk. Discover all that Easton’s Beach has to offer throughout the year including their famous snack bar. And if you’re into surfing make sure to bring your board since the beach typically makes great waves. Or rent one at First Beach or at Second Beach since both have trucks for renting surfboards.
Visit Newport Vineyards
If you love wine then you should pop in to visit Newport Vineyards. Experience a touch of Napa just minutes from downtown Newport. More than a vineyard, it’s a culinary destination that blends together award-winning wine, fresh craft beer, farm to table dining experiences and unique events situated on over 100-acres of preserved farmland.
Go Fishing on Goat Island
I know this isn’t for everyone but if you or someone you know loves to fish then this is something right up your alley and worth doing on a lazy summer afternoon. There are sooo many great spots around Newport where you can cast a line. You can especially find fisherman along the coast on Ocean Drive but one of the best spots to go fishing is on Goat Island. You’ll find the bridge loaded with people casting their lines all the time. I have two sons and my daughter who love to fish and they often go out around Newport looking to catch something. (Of course you can always book a fisherman’s trip out to sea with a local fishing charter.) But I think it’s a lot more fun to sit and watch the fish jump around and enjoy a nice day in leisurely peace on your own…
Iconic Ice Cream Shops Of Newport
Nothing screams summer quite like ice cream. Summer on The Classic Coast can be hot and while the ocean breeze might help cool the heat, ice cream certainly does it better. Newport’s local shops, some of which have been staples since the 1950s, offer the best scoops around. From classic flavors to funky experiments, your sugary, summery bliss starts right here. Some to pop in and visit: Kilwins Chocolates & Ice Cream (my personal favorite) on Thames Street | SPRINKLES on Bowen’s Wharf | Cold Fusion Gelato also on Thames Street | Sandcastles Ice Creame & Cafe (another favorite) Goddard Row on Brick Market Square
Entertainment + Nightlife
This is where things just get simple crazy. As for entertainment and nightlife, well that’s up for grabs. Pretty much anywhere you go in Newport you’re sure to find a spot where entertainment of some sort is the nightlife. Depending on whatever you like, there is something for everyone and for every age. Restaurants and bars line up the streets of downtown Newport and all offer much of the same. But I do have a few favorites in mind: The Reef | Top Of Newport | One Pelham East | The Firepits at Newport | Benjamin’s Raw Bar | Midtown Oyster Bar | Brick Alley Pub | The Landing